THEGREENGROK    Statistically Speaking

Statistically Speaking: Hurricanes, Oil, Infrastructure

by Bill Chameides | October 24th, 2008
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 1 comment


When a hurricane strikes, it’s big news. Neighborhoods and homes are destroyed; people and pets are stranded; then the aftermath — people returning to pick up the pieces. But there’s another important story told less often: the damage hurricanes do to the oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 2005 hurricane season, one of the worst and costliest on record in the United States, gave us Katrina and Rita. Both hurricanes strengthened to a Category 5 status with sustained winds reaching 175 miles per hour. By comparison, the 2008 season is shaping up to be relatively mild — with no storm larger than a Category 2 in the Gulf and only one, Hurricane Ike, damaging offshore equipment. How vulnerable is our oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf to storms? Here’s a look at the numbers from 2005 and 2008.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) Hurricane Ike (2008)
Category of hurricane in the gulf (max wind speeds) 3 to 5
(up to 175 mph)
1 to 2
(up to 110 mph)
Infrastructure in path of storms 3,000 platforms 1,450 platforms
Drilling rigs hit with extensive damage or set adrift 19 1
Drilling rigs destroyed 8 4
Production platforms with moderate damage Not tracked 60
Production platforms with extensive or major damage 163 35
Production platforms destroyed 116 54
Production platforms never put back in service 150-200 To be determined (TBD)
Damage incidents to pipelines 542 TBD (initial reports have 9 pipelines with damage)
Amount spilled offshore 740,000 gallons TBD (initial reports of 8,400 gallons)
Amount spilled at onshore support facilities 9,000,000 gallons TBD (initial report of about 260,000 gallons)
Oil production before storm 1.5 million barrels per day 1.3 million barrels per day
When oil production was restored post-storm Restored to 80 percent, 8 months after storm (final report 5/6/06) Restored to 60 percent, 5 weeks later (as of 10/13/08)
Lost production during shutdown period 153.5 million barrels TBD



Drilling rigs are used to explore for oil, test fields, and drill wells.  Production platforms are used to extract oil from a well once it begins producing oil.



Assessment of Fixed Offshore Platform Performance In Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, May 2007 – Report.pdf

Climate of 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season –

Dina Cappiello, Frank Bass, and Cain Burdeau, “Ike Spills Half a Million Gallons of Oil,” October 5, 2008 –,8599,1847378,00.html

Hurricane Gustav/Hurricane Ike Activity Statistics Update – October 16, 2008 –

Hurricane Katrina/Hurricane Rita Evacuation and Production Shut-in Statistics Report as of Wednesday, May 3, 2006 –

“Interior Secretary Gale Norton Reports on Gulf of Mexico Energy Status,” U.S. Department of the Interior News, October 4, 2005 –

Minerals Management Service Updates Number of Offshore Facilities Impacted by Hurricane Ike, October 7, 2008 –

MMS Updates Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Damage, May 1, 2006 –

Pipeline Damage Assessment from Hurricane Katrina/Rita, March 22, 2007 –

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Letter & Report to Congress: Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Hurricane Impact, May 8, 2006 –

filed under: faculty, oil, Statistically Speaking
and: ,

1 Comment

All comments are moderated and limited to 275 words. Your e-mail address is never displayed. Read our Comment Guidelines for more details.

  1. vinbeazel
    Oct 25, 2008

    Very excellent report. We at energytalk are making information on offshore hazards a priority in our quest to promote wind power in the oil and gas industries. Our shows are sponsored by and the Green Mechanical Council. By organizing regional training in green awareness for contractors and developers, the effort to connect with the trades at all levels extends to the non-energy professions, such as IT and Real Estate companies. For more info, please contact Joanne Keirns at Looking forward to more about offshore, with a stronger emphasis on wind from oil fields. Vince Beazel, Director EnergyTalk LIVE Network Tehachapi CA 661-823-1463″ title=”EnergyTalk LIVE Radio and Oil2Wind Development

©2015 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff